HARTMAN: An Open Letter To Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Dear Sen. Warren,

I know you mean well.  I really do.  But your push for a minimum wage hike to $15/hour is being led with dated undergirdings that just don’t pass muster.

In your Feb. 8, 2021 Facebook post, you wrote:

“When I was a kid, a minimum-wage job could support a family of three.”

Respectfully, Senator, you haven’t been a kid since JFK was POTUS, if not longer.  Things have changed.

You wrote:  “Today, it won’t keep a mother and her baby out of poverty.”

Respectfully, Senator, that’s not what it’s meant to do.

You wrote:  “We need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

Respectfully, Senator, you need to read the latest CBO report.  It shows that such an increase would lift 900,000 people out of poverty and put 1.5 million people out of work.

This is math.  If more of the single mothers were exposed to this – combined with reasonable choices – this would not be an issue.

I started working in 1985 when the minimum wage was $3.35 an hour – or something like that.  It might’ve been $3.15.  I was 15.  I didn’t have babies.  When I became sexually active, at an age that is none of your business, the minimum wage was the same.  I took steps to make sure I didn’t have babies, knowing that if I did, both my girlfriend and I would’ve been hard-pressed to achieve beyond low-level jobs.

Respectfully, Senator, your side likes to vocalize the importance of “choice” without any regard for the responsibility that comes with it.  Unlike many on my side, I DO support sex education that goes beyond abstinence education.  I DO support self-esteem programs that teach girls that they don’t have to have sex or have babies to have value.  I DO support pregnancy-prevention programs.  Please don’t throw darts about “but the Republicans say –.”  I’m a Republican: I don’t support abstinence-only education; I don’t oppose the “feel-good programs” of self-esteem.  I support choice, too – the kind that comes with responsibility – and with the realization that a minimum-wage job won’t support a family.

Do I want to say, “Stop having babies you can’t afford!”  Yeah, I kinda do.  But I won’t.  I’m not.  Instead, I’m saying, “Don’t make economic policy based on behavior; make economic policy that incentivizes good behavior.”

Is increasing the minimum wage worth considering?  Surely.  Is it worth doing because the norm when you and I were youngsters was different?  No.  It’s a false comparison, a fallacy, a red herring.

You can do better, Sen.  Warren.  We all can.  And we don’t need a doubling of the minimum wage to do it.

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